Students voice concerns about Master Plan


Students and staff members discussed on Thursday at the Von KleinSmid Center USC’s Master Plan and its potential community impact.

The potential for job creation as part of the Master Plan’s initiatives for development struck interest with David Galaviz, executive director of local government relations for USC.

Attentive · Students attended a forum where they could voice concerns about the potential impact of USC’s plans to renovate the U.V. - Priyanka Patel | Daily Trojan

“[USC] will make sure that there is a local hiring component, so that the residents have access to these jobs,” Galaviz said.

Community impact was a theme of the night, as the potential for affordable retail stores as well as easing housing concerns in the areas surrounding USC were discussed.

“We are creating 5,200 beds, meaning we could ease some of the housing pressure in the community,” Galaviz said.

Galaviz also noted that the increase in housing as outlined by the Master Plan could put some downward pressure on rents, thus making neighborhood housing more affordable.

Karina Casillas, a senior majoring in public policy, management and planning and American studies, said USC is only showing the “sunny side” of the development.

“Students want more affordable housing options, not necessarily new ones,” Casillas said.

Max Hoiland, a senior majoring in critical studies, is also concerned about a possible rise in housing prices as a result of the Master Plan.

“I live about a mile off campus with a bunch of students,” Hoiland said. “This plan would probably increase rent in the area since USC hasn’t made any specific commitment to affordable housing, and private landlords would have the ability to raise their prices too.”

The possibility that a higher-end retailer would replace Superior Grocers also worried Casillas.

“Everything found in those [higher-end] stores is at a higher price, which means the community won’t be able to afford it, and they will have to shop in a different neighborhood,” Casillas said.

Galaviz tried to dispel commonly held fears by stressing that over the last four to five years, the university has sponsored at least 200 community meetings through either an advisory council or door-to-door outreach in order to give community members a chance to voice their opinions.

Community members were also able to have their voices heard during the two open houses organized by the City Planning Department, which more than 350 people attended, 300 of whom supported the plan.

Casillas, however, feels that the student body has not been afforded the opportunity to fully understand and discuss what the Master Plan entails. She plans to work with the United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement, and will conduct an open forum regarding the development plans.

“This event is not about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the Master Plan but merely a call for equal consideration,” Casillas said.

Joshua Sena, a junior majoring in sociology, said including everyone in the discussion about the Master Plan encourages its success.

“The best course of action would be a collaboration between students, the community and USC,” Sena said. “Everyone affected should have an input as to what should be done.”

 

Burke Gibson contributed to this report.

  • Gwendolyn

    I’ve got to disagree. I was at the meeting because I wanted to learn more, and I definitely did – I am not at all opposed to the Master Plan or the redevelopment of University Village, and I’ve not spoken to anyone that is (no one at the meeting was opposed to the whole idea either). The prospect of jobs, safety, amenities, cleanliness etc. is great! I just want the Plan and the UV upgrade to be done in a way that benefits members of the surrounding community and is responsive to community concerns, and particularly that helps create and maintain affordable housing. Students displacing long-time residents has been occurring pretty significantly already, so I wouldn’t call it bogus when students assert that displacement will likely increase. I really do think this can be a win-win for all involved – as long as key concerns are addressed.

    This site captures some of what I’m talking about – http://www.usc2030.com/

  • John

    I thought our students were smarter than this.

    They are all speaking from the gut without any facts backing them up. In truth, they are ignoring the facts.

    They are just dead wrong–hard to believe they could be so outside of the circle of knowlege about urban planning and this plan in particular.

    This is a godsend to the neighborhood and the people from the neighborhood know it.

  • Jay

    RE: “I live about a mile off campus with a bunch of students,” Hoiland said. “This plan would probably increase rent in the area since USC hasn’t made any specific commitment to affordable housing, and private landlords would have the ability to raise their prices too.”

    These students obviously have no idea how housing/rents work (i.e. supply and demand)…If private landlords have to compete with more housing options available for students, landlords will most likely have to lower their rents to attract students away from the additonal housing options available in the market.

    On the other hand, if USC does not address the “pressure” on the housing market (by “pressure” I assume they mean the increasing need for off-campus housing), then landlords have no reason to lower their rents, and as demand continues to increase for off-campus housing, that would even give landlords the ability to raise rents further.

    • Alex

      Exactly. All this talk about community displacement is bogus. This new development will do wonders for everyone in the surrounding community, yes, including local residents. There is no need to fear progress people! Not all development is bad! This is another crucial step towards making the neighborhood around USC (and USC itself) a safer and more attractive place to live. I am behind this development 100%